Allen Stone | The Beach Ball Festival: Soul Revue | September 21, 2013

Click here to check out the blog entries of the other acts I was able to catch (Myron & E, Lee Fields and the Expressions, Maceo Parker and Aloe Blacc) at The Beach Ball Festival: Soul Revue.

Allen Stone at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
Allen Stone at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]

About a year ago, while searching the web for new music, I came across a youtube video of a white soul singer from Seattle, Washington singing a soulful, acoustic version of one of his own compositions.  The chorus of the song, and the voice the singer, hooked me instantly.  The songs was called “Another Break Up Song” and the singer’s name was  Allen Stone.

On October 19, 2012, I was able to see him perform at The Fonda Theatre. His performance that evening was so good that it made it into the top 10 of the concert events I went to in 2012. Since I missed his early afternoon set at Coachella this year, I was ecstatic to hear that he would be performing at the Beach Ball Soul Revue.

If you are unfamiliar with Allen Stone, I would describe this self-professed “hippie with soul” as a throwback to those soul legends who sang lyrics embedded with social commentary. Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Donny Hathaway … I’m talking the heavy hitters. Lofty comparisons for a relative newbie in the music industry, but with a tenor voice as soulful as his, and poingnant songwriting ability, it’s hard for me not to make them.  Back in October 2012, I professed on my Facebook page that Allen Stone could be an artist that we’d see performing at the Hollywood Bowl or Greek Theatre sooner rather than later. I’m going to stick to my guns.

His performance at the Beach Ball was as good as I remembered him at the Fonda, if not more energetic. He fed off the energy from the crowd, who sang along to Allen’s more well known songs. The crowd loved his performance, and clearly loved the messages of love and togetherness Allen professed throughout his set.

After all of the concert festivities for the evening had concluded, I meandered to my “Cheers” (Ye Old Kings Head in Santa Monica) for a few drinks with friends. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed that Allen and his crew were tucked away in a corner of the bar. Being the gregarious person I am … though, I’m sure the double Dewars I had just consumed also helped … I walked over to Allen’s table and introduced myself. I recall telling him that I was at his show at the Fonda, that I enjoyed his set on the pier, and how I’m always hoping that I’d get to hear him perform “Another Break Up Song”.

Me and Allen Stone at the Kings Head after the Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
Me and Allen Stone at the Kings Head after the Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]

I offered to buy him a drink, but he told me that it was his turn to be the designated driver. I think I may have bought his manager a drink though. Not wanting to be a leech, I told Allen that I was really looking forward to hear his next album, and snapped a quick pic before minding my own. A friend of mine who manages the Kings Head has offered to hang a picture of me and Snoop on the celebrity wall of the Kings Head, but I’ve always refused because Snoop’s never been to the Kings Head.  I just may have to give him my picture with Allen.

Allen Stone performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
Allen Stone performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
Allen Stone performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
Allen Stone performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
Allen Stone performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
Allen Stone performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
Allen Stone performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
Allen Stone performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
Allen Stone performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
Allen Stone performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
Allen Stone performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
Allen Stone performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
 

Click here to check out the blog entries of the other acts I was able to catch (Myron & E, Lee Fields and the Expressions, Maceo Parker and Aloe Blacc) at The Beach Ball Festival: Soul Revue.

Illumination Road | The Roxy | June 4, 2013

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A couple years ago, while throwing back some scotch at one of my favorite pubs in Santa Monica, Ye Olde King’s Head, I was introduced to a couple of musicians who were in a LA based band called Ironheel. They were in the process of putting together a full length album, and they gave me some sites where I could check out their music. Sometime the next day, probably while brewing some coffee to help get my groggy afternoon started, I sat down at my computer and looked them up. I got excited. It was raw rock and roll with killer bass lines that reminded me of some of the greats back from the 60s and 70s.

I’d bump into the guys on occasion at the bar and always ask how their music was going. I can’t seem to remember all of the details- I’m blaming the scotch- but what I did take away from our conversations that was that the band was going through some changes. I figured if they wanted to get further into it, they’d let me know.

Fast forward closer to the present, and after more drinks, Chris Ayden and Chad Mitchell Schlosser tell me that they rebooted the band with a new name, Illumination Road, but still took the same approach to the music that I had liked so much when they were in Ironheel. Apparently, their sound impressed others as well as they were asked to play a set at the Stone Music Festival in Australia where they shared the stage with the likes of Billy Joel, Aerosmith, Buckcherry  and the supergroup Kings of Chaos. When they told me that they were having their first ever  U.S. gig as Illumination Road at the Roxy, I had to check it out. It was just what the doctor ordered.

Good old fashioned rock and roll. An edgier version of the Kinks influenced by Hendrix?  Blue Oyster Cult with Robert Plant influenced vocals? A modern day The Guess Who (more “American Woman” than “No Time”)?  It’s hard to say at this point because they’re such a new band. And honestly, comparisons don’t mean anything. All I know is that there’s a sound here with this band that can really fill a current void in the rock-and-roll marketplace, and it’s a sound that is uniquely their own. If they keep writing songs like the ones I’ve heard, and keep rocking their live performance like I saw them do, maybe they’ll lead the charge to get music back to its classic rock roots.  After all, there is that whole cultural, cyclical hypothesis thingy…

Regardless, I’ll be keeping my eye on them to see where their jams take them. Check out the iPhone video clips I took, and if they pique your interest… pssst … they’re on Facebook.